EliteXC: Uprising Recap: Lawler victorious, Carano grounds Evinger, more close calls
Robbie Lawler finishes off Murilo Rua to capture EliteXC middleweight title (photo courtesy EliteXC).
Lawler takes title convincingly
Robbie Lawler looked confident in the second round, even grinning at times as Murilo Rua looked to be fading in their EliteXC middleweight title bout. Lawler appeared to know the end was near and proved it in the next round by unleashing a flurry of punches that absolutely rocked Rua and had the middleweight champ doing the splits on the way down to the canvas, where Lawler finished him off for good.
Lawler looked very impressive in winning the title and along with Rua, Frank Shamrock (Strikeforce middleweight champ), and Phil Baroni the middleweight division appears to be EliteXC's marquee weight class. And quite honestly, I would put those four up against UFC's top four middleweights (a weight class that is clearly UFC's weakest division) any day.
"The face of woman's MMA" wins by submission
I can't imagine what would happen to Gary Shaw and EliteXC if Gina Carano actually loses a match. It seems as though the entire promotion hinges on her success. On Showtime's telecast last night, her dad was even seen hugging referee Steve Mazzagati (who was not the referee for her fight) after she won. I don't think I've seen so many people in an organization so happy that one person won.
On the other hand, Carano showed us that she can do more than just kickbox by defeating Tonya Evinger by chokeout at the end of the first round. However, after two fights in the promotion, I'm still not sure how good Carano is. And, Shaw doesn't appear as interested in finding out or in filling out the woman's division as he does in making sure Carano remains the face of the division.
Jake Shields is hard to beat on the ground
Jake Shields is one of the top welterweights in the world and last night he proved it again, defeating a respected BJJ artist in Renato Verissimo by ground-and-pound in the first round. Shields looked like he wanted to establish his stand-up game early in the round but soon decided to go to his strength and the took the fight to the ground, where he won. There's no doubt that Shields would easily be a contender in UFC's welterweight division.
Split decision = splitting headache
After last night's split decisions that favored Nick Diaz (against Mike Aina) and Joey Villasenor (against Riki Fukuda), the bottom line in MMA is that if you want to guarantee yourself a victory, don't leave the outcome up to the judges. Plain and simple.
Both fights were close and shouldn't at all be compared to the Hamill-Bisping fight at UFC 75. Both of these fights could have gone either way. This is especially true for the Villasenor-Fukuda fight, which was rightly scored 29-28 on all the judges' cards. In the Diaz-Aina fight, I felt that Aina had done enough standing with his heavy punches and one knockdown to take the fight. On the other hand, Diaz scored two round-ending takedowns and was active on the ground at the end of both the second and third rounds and he scored with some decent punches on his feet.
So, while I didn't necessarily have a disagreement with the outcome of the Diaz decision, I didn't understand how one of the judges could score that fight 30-27 for Diaz.
After last week's uproar over the Hamill-Bisping fight, I'm of two minds on judging. Does the system need to be revamped? Yes. Do judges need to be trained better so that they are all looking for the same thing when they are scoring a fight? Yes.
But, I think a nice byproduct of the seeming arbitrariness of these decisions is that they encourage fighters not to leave the fight in the judges' hands. And, the pursuit of a true victory by stoppage is what I think will keep MMA from following the path of boxing, which ended up becoming a race to the judges' scorecards. As long as decisions are unpredictable and fighters fear what may be written on a scorecard, MMA fights will remain exciting.
And, with MMA exploding and better athletes joining the sport every year, the disparity in skill level will continue to get narrower and narrower. If I'm a fighter in an evenly matched fight, I'd rather take my chances going for a stoppage than leaving the outcome up to what a judge did or didn't see from his vantage point.
So, in the end, maybe the controversial decisions the last two weeks weren't such a bad thing after all.
I liked EliteXC's production at their event last night. I think the nod to Hawaiian culture was done tastefully and I liked the waterfall through which the fighters entered the arena.
In addition, the addition of the "Fight Professor" Stephen Quadros to the ringside announcing crew was a nice one. Personally, I would like to see the play-by-play done by Mauro Ranallo and the color commentary done by Quadros. I would remove Bill Goldberg from the fight commentary team and limit him to conducting post-fight interviews.